get the newsletter

shine along

May 10, 2016

Badass Ladies You Should Know: Simini Blocker

Kate Hart
Simini Blocker headshot
If you've spent any time on Tumblr or in the YA world, you've seen the work of Simini Blocker. She's done commissions for great titles like Jessica Spotswood's A Tyranny of Petticoats, Julie Murphy's Dumplin', and Alison Cherry's Red. Her illustrations of Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park were included in a special edition of the book. She's done magazine illustrations, her own comics, artistic interpretations of literary quotes for Goodreads newsletters, and even adorable family portraits.

Simini's style is easily recognizable, but I wanted to find out more about the badass lady behind it, and now I'm happy to share her badassery with you.


illustration by Simini Blocker: brown skinned girl dancing in sundress against yellow background
Spring Dance by
Simini Blocker
Kate: Describe your career(s) and/or current projects. What path(s) and passions led you there?

Simini: I’m an illustrator, primarily working in kidlit. I’ve always loved to draw and paint, and read. As a kid, I started drawing fan art of my favorite movies and books (Star Wars, then Tamora Pierce books, Disney characters, and lots of Harry Potter). In middle school I realized that art +books was an actual real job - the woman who drew the Harry Potter book covers was a real person (Mary GrandPre) and maybe I could do the same thing.

I majored in Illustration with an emphasis in design for animation, and afterwards interned for Disney Interactive. After that experience (though great!), I decided I wanted to focus on book illustration for awhile. Currently I’m illustrating a kids graphic novel for First Second, and working on writing some of my own projects.

embroidery by Simini Blocker: color burst with "I can, I will" inside

Kate: Do you have any (other) creative outlets? How do they influence/affect your main work (if at all)?

Simini: Well, I still love reading, and fan art remains a favorite hobby. I still go there for practice and portfolio building. Fan art has connected me so many wonderful people and opportunities- I love participating in the YA community online.
Other outlets - I started experimenting with embroidery last year as way to get off the computer (since I work digitally) and direct some anxiety. I love the tactile-ness of it, and it’s nice to have an actual physical thing at the end.

I’ve also recently picked up bullet journaling/sketchbooking (it’s a fad right now, I know!) in an effort to get back into writing and drawing more (again working in Photoshop so often, my analog art practice has really suffered). It’s been super enjoyable to experiment more, and with a variety of materials. And since I’ve combined it with a lot of personal journaling- there’s absolutely no pressure to show it to anyone- which is a relief.

Kate: What's your biggest challenge?

Simini: I struggle a lot with perfectionism- not in the humblebrag way, but the absolutely terrified to work on or finish things way. A lot of anxiety attached to it which is… not very helpful as an artist. I try to remember that “perfect is the enemy of the good” and good work only comes after a lot mistakes and wrong paths. You have to push through. And something passable is always better than something perfect, because the perfect this is never going to exist.

"We read to know we're not alone" poster by Simini Blocker "Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story" quote from Jandy Nelson, poster  by Simini Blocker "There's something about swimsuits that make you think you've got to earn the right to wear them. Really, the criteria is simple. Do you have a body? Put a swimsuit on it." quote by Julie Murphy, poster by  by Simini Blocker
posters for Goodreads and a commission for Julie Murphy's Dumplin'

Kate: What's the best compliment you've ever gotten?

Simini: Probably anytime I receive comments that’s that my artwork has made someone feel more comfortable with themselves, or relates to them in some way they personally connect to. Especially with body image - something close to my heart because it’s been such a difficult thing in my life. It’s a thrill, and an honor. And always makes me want to do better.

Illustration of two female characters from Katie Coyle's Vivian Apple At The End of the World
illustration from Katie Coyle's
Vivian Apple at the End of the World
Kate: Did you have any defining moments that galvanized your understanding of and/or commitment to feminism? How does it inform/inspire your work? 

Simini: Oh, a lot of things - especially in the last decade. Years of “little things’ can become an avalanche. Growing up, I probably wouldn’t have called myself a feminist, even though I definitely had all those beliefs. Feminists were extremists - or whatever stereotype made it seem like something I wasn’t supposed to be. But once I started studying feminism - reading a lot, learning history and listening to experiences outside myself - it was something I couldn’t deny. It’s made me feel so much stronger.

For my own work, representation of women and girls (inclusion, body image, diversity) in media is very important to me. Art is never created in a vacuum - what we see in media can have a huge subconscious effect on how we see ourselves and others. So a lack of representation or misrepresentation of any marginalized group- women, people of color, LGBT communities, people with disabilities- can be devastating. As a visual artist, it’s an area where I feel responsible, even if it’s not always possible to focus on it as much as I’d like when working for a client. That, at least, is a great motivator to create my own projects.

Levi and Cath from Rainbow Rowell's FANGIRL having an emergency dance party - poster  by Simini Blocker
illustration from Rainbow
Rowell's Fangirl

Kate: What are the best ways to support other women?

Simini: I love the concept of “Shine theory” talked about on the Call Your Girlfriend podcast - basically “I don’t shine if you don’t.” Celebrate other women’s success, support their work, and make an effort to empathize with their struggles, even if it’s something you may be privileged enough not to face.

Along those same lines - “Your success is not my failure” is a helpful mantra for me. It’s easy to get caught up in jealousy and comparison on social media. But there’s lots of room at the table. And who knows how many tables we haven’t even found yet. Make space.

Kate: What is your advice to aspiring badasses?

Simini: Just start. Advice that I have to give myself all the time. “Work comes from work.” Just start. And… be open to new goals. Sometimes that big life goals doesn’t work out, or isn’t what you thought it would be. It can feel a lot like failure, but give yourself permission to change.


Badass Ladies You Should Know logo
Simini Blocker is an illustrator presently based in Texas. She has worked on visual development for games, and illustration for children's books and magazines, including illustrating the picture book Fairy Birds. In her free time she enjoys drawing from her favorite YA novels, some of those pieces have been included in later special editions. She’s currently illustrating a graphic novel for First Second Books— Hop Hop Wish, written by Nathaniel Lachenmeyer.

blog   //  twitter  //  store

Want to meet more Badass Ladies? Follow on Tumblr or Twitter!



Post a Comment

All content copyright Kate Hart 2016

Template copyright @ 2016, Blogger Templates Designed By Templateism | Distributed By Blogger Templates20